According to Climbing Business Journal’s 2014 Climbing Gyms & Trends article, the climbing industry is continuing to grow and change. Even though growth wasn’t quite as high as expected, the industry is strong and positioned for continued success. Here are some highlights from the article (Note: Read the original article on CBJ):
1. The U.S. climbing gym market grew 9% in 2014 (compared to 10% in 2013).
2. The 9% growth rate is less than what was projected, primarily due to big projects missing their timelines.
3. In 2014, 29 new gyms were completed and 3 existing gyms found new locations.
4. Of the 29 new gyms, 14 were bouldering-only gyms. California alone got 4 new bouldering gyms.
5. CBJ reports their are now a total of 353 commercial climbing facilities in the U.S.
6. Climbing gyms continue to have a very low rate of closure (only 2 in 2014).
Now, for the fun stuff. Based on what was happening in 2014, here are some forward-thinking projections from Climbing Business Journal for how 2015 will shape up.
First, real estate is a consideration. We’ve already started to see that prospective gym owners are struggling to find suitable buildings for climbing gyms. The needs of climbing gyms include high ceilings, large square footage totals, parking, location, price, etc., and if the space isn’t perfect or cost-effective to make perfect, buying existing buildings may not make the most sense. Owners are starting to build their new facilities from scratch to respond to the lack of suitable real estate. CBJ expects to see more new climbing gyms breaking ground on new constructions rather than buying preexisting buildings for 2015.
Secondly, we’ll also probably continue to see climbing gyms multi-tasking by incorporating fitness studios, yoga programs, weight-lifting and other cross-training types of activities into their business model. But, while some are multitasking in one location, others are specializing. The growth of bouldering-only gyms last year is evidence of that.
Thirdly, we’re starting to see more growth from existing companies opening additional facilities, especially traditional gyms opening bouldering gyms or established gyms adding locations in other areas of a metropolis. Also in line with this, we’re seeing more established companies open additional facilities, both in their home region and in new regions. An area of interest is new facilities in areas without established climbing communities (like the Midwest where there isn’t much outdoor climbing). So while we’re still seeing owners new to the scene opening up gyms, this idea of gym companies will several locations is becoming a new norm. It shows the stability in the industry and the potential for climbing gym companies to be successful.
Finally, since the industry is becoming more established and experienced, we’re seeing older facilities upgrading or building new sites to replace their old locations. Some are going bigger, some just newer, but this is a pivotal time where we’re seeing what happens when a gym gets outdated.
For more information, charts and statistics, check out the original article by Climbing Business Journal.